SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











I missed out on the last big family trip.  It was a trip to New Orleans, right before Crazy Math Lady ventured off to Africa and I hosted her farewell bunco. The repercussions were bigger than I realized at the time, but it was important for me to stay home. Now I might choose differently.  Not sure.

So a month or so ago, Nana and the Biloxi Babe (awesome cousin!) started making plans for a Memphis trip. They set it all up, from hotel to tours – all we had to do was show up!

The trip fell on a weekend during state testing. Grizzly’s brother, sister, and spouses had work commitments and were unable to attend. While most of the family headed north on Thursday, school stuff kept the rest of us a day behind.

As soon as Monkey #2, the last arrival at the House of Cheaptitude, jumped off the school bus, we loaded up the pimpmobile and headed out.
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We did stop at Waffle house in North Shreveport before hitting the interstate!

Fast forward to 11 Friday night. We arrived at the Holiday Inn Express on Union, in the Medical district. A Red Bull and Cappuccino in, I got the fam settled in our room and headed to the mini gym to finish my 10k steps.

The next morning, we met in the lobby for a yummy continental breakfast and called for cabs to Beale St. Why plural? We had 14 people to transport!
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We had requested a van, but you take what you can get sometimes. We sent the monkeys with Nana and crew, while the cousins waited behind.
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It’s a good thing we like each other. By the end of the night, we were piled in a Prius. Of the 6 of us, 3 of us are 5’11 and taller!

We were dropped off at BB King’s to wait for the tour bus. We sat on the outdoor patio, did a little shopping – I’m all about magnets – drooled over the apparent Corvette convention, and quenched our thirst.

Btw, I love 3 year olds. I taught Minnie Mouse that corvettes are “the best cars ever.”
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Finally, we crossed the street to the Hard Rock and boarded the Backbeat Bus Tour. So many amazing sites, with musical accompaniment!
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We saw Johnny Cash’s old house, Elvis’s housing project, Sun, the hotel where MLK, Jr was assassinated and so many other places! The tour guide was amaze-balls, sharing all kinds of cool trivia you can’t just get anywhere….
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After the bus tour, we crammed back into cabs and cruised back to the hotel. On the trip, 2 couples actually had vans and we figured it was a better idea to drive ourselves to Graceland for our tour than to wait for more taxis.
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There was free parking on Lonely St – near Heartbreak Hotel!

We started out touring the mansion and grounds. All I can say is WOW.
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We were given iPads and headsets and allowed to tour at our own pace. We weren’t allowed upstairs, to the family’s private quarters, but that would have added massive time to the tour and I was already on sensory overload. While the decorating was not to my taste, it was really lavish for the era.
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And the grounds were breathtaking.

I think the best part of the tour for the monkeys was the airplanes. I enjoyed Elvis’s car collection myself!

I think every part of the tour had shops and food. Grizz and I split some Memphis BBQ nachos.
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When we got back to the hotel, we took a little rest time before dinner, then cabbed to Overton Square to find dinner. Several places didn’t allow under 21 folks, so our options were on the limited side with 4 little monkeys. Did we end up eating world famous barbecue? Nope. We settled on a yummy German place. The tables were picnic style and we didn’t all get to sit together but we still got to visit while we ate. There was also musical entertainment from an impromptu barbershop quartet!

Nana and crew gave the marrieds a free pass so we decided to head back to Beale for some night life and grown up beverages. We tried to ride the Roo, a bus with a kangaroo on the roof, but her route didn’t go to Beale. We finally found a cab when I jumped in the street to flag one – and it was a van so we had a little more room!

We checked out several places on Beale, preferring the ones with no cover charge. It started raining so we popped into a gift shop for $3 rain ponchos. From a smoky pool hall to Coyote Ugly, we explored. We finally settled into some patio chairs on the sidewalk in front of a bar, Club Handy, with a to-go window and people watched.
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Eventually we located a Prius cab driven by the Serbian cabby and squished back in. Teacher Cousin knew his life story by the time we pulled into a convenience store for Grizzly and Music Man to pick up beer!

The fellas wanted to sit by the pool and visit and while I was exhausted I fixed coffee and prepared to join them. While doing so, I overheard the concerned security guard telling the night clerk about the “redneck that just went to the pool with a 12pack of beer.”. Oy! What memories! When I got to the pool area, I did feel apprehensive, spotting my ” redneck” excessively close to the pool! (Turned out he was taking photos of a duck in the pool!)

Sunday morning marked the end of our part of the trip. We ate breakfast and drove over to the famous Peabody to watch the ducks march.
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We walked back to Beale to grab lunch. The rest of the family was going on to the Civil Rights Museum, and we’d be heading home. BBQ King chose Dyer’s, a burger joint famed for its 100 year old grease (google it! Craziness!) and we’ve seen it on Man vs. Food.
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Now, the burger that Monkey 2 and I split was amazing but not for those watching their girlish figures. I restrained myself and partook in just a sip of her hand-dipped milkshake. Grizz destroyed a Diablo, which was a variety of meat and grease – and a slightly extended rest stop in Little Rock!

It was not fast food and the waitress was so rude. Just sayin’.

Grizz and I stepped outside in the sprinkles and did some more people watching.
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And found a nice alleyway that meets Music Man’s standards.

After lunch, we stopped to see the Irish jumping goats at Memphis’s answer to Pat O’s. Due to inclement weather, they were chilling in their hut, but we can say we saw them!
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It was such a whirlwind trip and I’m sure there is more to do, but we had a great time. Very family friendly overall and one heck of a bonding experience!

Do you ever do quickie weekend trips?

~ Katie

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I wasn’t really raised in the south.  I moved here when I was almost 16, but over the past 20+ years, I’ve adopted some very southern idiosyncrasies.  My monkeys do not refer to grown ups by their first names – it’s “Mr. Shawn, Mrs. Mia,” and for those very close family friends “Aunt Janice, Uncle Karl.”. We say “yes, ma’am. No, sir.” We bless our McDonald’s value meals.  These aren’t things I grew up doing, but have totally embraced.

A little more difficult? Weddings and babies.  Southern women love love love weddings and babies.  I do, too, truth be told.  But I love love love them from a distance.

A little over a week ago, September 4, our family was blessed with a new addition. Grizzly’s “baby” brother and his sweet wife were joined by baby Tiger Bite. They were on my mind and in my prayers all day and evening. Due to a C-section, it was Saturday before they left the hospital. I didn’t go visit. Do I love them any less? Absolutely not. I don’t like hospitals or crowds, Monkey 2 is too young to go in the room, and Grizzly was out of town. I’m beyond excited to have a new nephew to spoil! But I’m OK with waiting a minute.

As for weddings, they tend to stress me out. I’ve been a bridesmaid in several. Expensive dresses and up-do’s for a 15 minute ceremony, dealing with bridezillas and in-laws, and excessive drama in general. I much prefer being a guest, so I may come and go at will.

One of my best friends married on the 12th, and I’m over the moon for her. Her new husband is young, adorable, and head over heels for her and my little buddy, Soccer Star. I wanted to throw her a shower, attend her bachelorette, etc., but when she said it was a JP wedding with just their parents, I honestly breathed a sigh of relief! Had she needed me there, I’d have stopped whatever I needed to for her. But it was still a weight off my shoulders. A wedding can wreck the best of friendships.

Am I the only weirdo that loves weddings and babies more in theory than in real life? Maybe it’s my aversion to crowds and excessive financial expenditures? And it really isn’t that I dislike either in reality. I just prefer to keep a safe distance.

Btw, BFF and Tatman are now happily married and honeymooned, and I did finally get to love on that sweet lil nephew of mine, Tiger Bite. Totally worth the lack of my immediate presence.

So, seriously, am I the only weirdo?

~ Katie

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My family is blessed to live near a beautiful US Air Force Base, Barksdale AFB, home of the B-52 bomber. The base is an incredible asset to our community. Nearly every spring since I moved here in 1992, they’ve opened the gates and invited the public in for an air show, which never disappoints!
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Barksdale has hosted the air show since 1933 so the public can see what the role of the base is in our community. A lot of the base is on display during the air show, things the general public doesn’t have daily access to. Not only are there in-air displays of talented pilots in really cool planes, but visitors may also tour a lot of planes, helicopters, etc.
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When Monkey #1 was a really little guy, we would go with Aunt YoYo to the main fire house and hang with Uncle Ace, who worked there. We didn’t have to worry so much about parking or having a good view – the fire house was nearly the best seat!

In more recent years, we’ve attended with friends. We love to walk the flight line, buy frozen lemonades, and see what is going on.
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This year was a little different. Grizzly and the monkeys had a party to attend in the afternoon. We weren’t too sure about traffic and crowds, let alone how much money we tend to spend on food, drinks and souvenirs. In some neighborhoods, you can see the air show from the back yards, so we decided to take the kids to Mike Woods Park, grill, play, and see how it went.
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The monkeys found plenty to do in between planes.
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And they made some new friends.

We didn’t have to wait in any lines or worry about parking. Our only expense was picnicky stuff that we would buy anyway. We could come and go as we pleased, and it was a really nice afternoon.

Now that we figured out how convenient the park is, I can’t wait to see the 2015 show!

What are some family fun activities you have tried?

~ Katie

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This past spring was horribly difficult in the House of Cheaptitude. I would prefer to never have a repeat. However, everything happens for a reason, and I feel like part of what I went through brought me some amazing experiences with the monkeys that I otherwise may not have taken the time to enjoy.

Easter weekend was a real bonding event for us this year.  We worked hard, played hard, and had a lot of fun.

The monkeys have always enjoyed digging in the dirt.  My front flower bed needed some serious attention, so I Tom Sawyered them.  We went to a plant stand, where I thought we were just getting a few flats of annuals. Nope, my babies wanted knockout roses!
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I did get my annual flat of impatiens….

When we came home, the work really began. Pulling shrubs and trash from the flower bed, deciding where to move some perennials, choosing places for the new additions…
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The monkeys were such a help with cleanup!

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It was hot, grubby work!
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Monkey #1 wanted his roses by the garage, dressing up the driveway a bit.

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Monkey #2 preferred the front flower bed.

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She also “helped” with my annuals.
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Once our $27 worth of plants were in the ground, the rest of the front needed some clean up.
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My monkeys had a great time in the yard, but were even more excited to dye eggs.

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I hate to spend money if I don’t have to, so we consulted Google, and figured out how to dye eggs with food coloring and vinegar. The smell was on the atrocious side, but it was a lot of fun.

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I was present pretty much in a supervisory capacity. The monkeys picked out the food coloring, concocted the dyes, and colored the eggs. I was there to keep them from coloring my kitchen – or each other!

Exhaustion set in kind of early that night. Monkey #2’s biggest concern as she went to bed was if Pioneer Woman came to help with the bathroom, she needed to be very careful not to run over the Easter Rabbit. The baskets on the table and eggs in the yard the next morning were proof enough.
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They were absolutely enthralled with all of the goodies!
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Used to hunting the plastic eggs, the monkeys got a kick out of searching for eggs they’d colored themselves.
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Monkey #2 wasn’t much of an eagle eye….

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It took over an hour for them to locate all of their Easter eggs. By the time they were finished, they needed a big breakfast to refuel for church.

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(I love sunrise service for Easter, but Pioneer Woman convinced me to try out St. Mark’s midmorning.)
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Grizzly and the monkeys did Easter dinner with his family, while I slowed down enough to watch the skiers from Pioneer Woman’s back patio and have dinner with her. All in all, it was a successful weekend.

What tips do you have for quality family holiday weekends without breaking the bank?

~ Katie

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Happy New Year’s Eve, y’all! I am out of bed, showered, and wearing clothes (not my sweats, Real Chick!) by 7:44 on my school break. This is an accomplishment!

I’ve been a total Pinterest junkie the last several days (when I should be lesson planning, cleaning, etc.) I’ve been searching and pinning organizational ideas. I did an entire series this year on a household binder. I love binders. I had the best of intentions.

The forms are all on my computer while the binder collects dust.

I found the coolest idea on Pinterest – a command center instead of a management binder.  So I got out my handy dandy 31 Gifts organizer, labeled some file folders, and so far it’s working ok.  I  have a “to file” folder and a mail folder (so the mail doesn’t get lost on the kitchen counter!), s well as a folder for each family member.  All folders need to be addressed on Friday, if not sooner.  There’s enough room to include my finance binder (I’ll post about this later), and the pockets on the outside hold list pads, for groceries, to do lists, etc.

This organizer thingy fits on my unused telephone stand in the kitchen, so it’s near my calendar as well as the kitchen table – where we’ll be having weekly family and budget meetings.

It’s not the household management binder I had envisioned, but that’s ok.  The binder is coming.  The command center works for right now!

Take what bugs you and fix it.

What project are you tackling in the new year?

~ Katie

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{July 20, 2013}   Reflection: See You Soon

Lately I’ve been going through a lot of old pictures for a project. It’s made me realize how my circle of friends has changed over time.

Growing up, I thought I’d be tight with my close friends forever. Now I see those folks on Facebook, we talk about getting together to catch up, but we never do.  It doesn’t make me fake, or those old friends fake, either. It just is the way it is. I still talk to Jeepnmom all the time, 30 years later, a thousand miles away, but she’s the only one.

Grizzly and I have settled down in a military  town.  Through his interests and mine, we’ve made lots of friends. Some close, some not so close, and we’ve come to accept over the years that many of our friends, military or not, have to move on eventually.

Recently, we attended a going away party for one of Grizzly’s friends, Bama Ken (not his real name, but he could have been sculpted by Mattel – Real Chick says my husband only has good-looking friends!)

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And even though we don’t like to think about it, or talk about it, the fact that another of our friends is going to be someplace for several months where, let’s face it, Americans aren’t exactly winning popularity contests, brings home just how impermanent these relationships really might be.

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Are we supposed to stop being close to people? Do we only become friends with people whose roots are so deeply entrenched in SoBo that we can safely assume they’ll never leave? I don’t want to live like that. I don’t have as many close relationships as maybe I once did, but geography isn’t a factor.

So we’ll continue to make memories with our friends, enjoying their company while we have it. And we’ll attend going away parties, try to stay in touch, pray while they’re away.

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And hope every day that they come home safely, soon, to photo bomb us again.

~ Katie



{April 21, 2013}   A Month of Birthdays

It started with a surprise for Pioneer Woman. Then it was Hot Chocolate (Real Chick, did I get it right?) and a cigar-themed party. The next Friday was a birthday dinner for Mrs. Wendy, followed by the Little General. I missed both of those.

Tonight we all gathered for Real Chick’s surprise dinner at a nice restaurant in NoBo.  (St. Yoda set the bar really high – which hubby can plan all that on the slick side?) These shindigs are usually followed by karaoke till we close the doors of whichever hole in the wall we pick.  Good friends, good times, and the occasional lap dance.

Mr. Carl, you missed out.

It’s been a month of birthdays like I’ve never experienced.

The Little General has it figured out.  Friends tend to fall into different categories. You have work friends, maybe neighborhood or church friends, and so on.  And you do different things with different people. She and the Higher Authority, who have been tight way before Bunco, and their precious hubbies started the Friday night El Mariachi tradition. We’ve been doing Sunday Funday lately with Pioneer Woman’s husband, Real Chick, and St. Yoda. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes those friendships become pretty fluid.

In a month of birthdays, I’m thankful for all of these amazing friends.

Just a thought. I’ll get back on tips and tricks in the morning.

– Katie



This will probably become a binder in itself, because I really am the only one to need it. This is the section I use to keep up with my projects. It is filled with clippings from magazines with ideas for projects, various instructions for said crafts, and my never-ending to-do lists.

In my attempt at organization, this section is divided up by craft type.  Some of the things I’ve included are:

  • Kids’ crafts:  Family Fun Magazine is a wealth of information.  I also list websites with cute ideas.
  • Scrapbooking:  different ideas for photos and layouts
  • Sewing: magazine clippings, Pinterest ideas, different patterns I’ve found online, doodles and drawings I’ve made with ideas for projects around the house
  • Crosstitch: patterns and ideas
  • Miscellaneous: just random re-purposing projects

I need to add an inventory of my supplies, along with where things are located (see my post about making t-shirts with Crazy Math Lady – I’ve misplaced some supplies!)

During the school year, I don’t have a lot of time for all of my craft projects.  I’ve put myself on restriction from buying more crafting things until I can get projects done, which should motivate the heck out of me, since I love crafty stuff.  My re-purposed closet still has  a ton of scrapbooking junk supplies, which I do sometimes use for my classroom, but I have an aversion to scrapbooking if the kitchen isn’t in order.  When I clean the kitchen, it takes awhile because my ADD kicks in and I get sidetracked – frequently.  By the time its spotless, I’ve run out of steam for crafting.

However, having a list of projects and setting up my bucket helps.  I like tasks broken into small chunks, where they’re more manageable.  And I’m more likely to do something. Having the idea pages in my binder inspires me and when I have a few minutes, I can knock out a small craft project.

How do you keep up with your crafts?  Do you have a system in place or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

~ Katie



Ten Sections??  REALLY?  This is why my binder is being separated – manageability.  I will keep similar sections together, but looking at my binder in its most recent form sends me into sensory overload.  It worked before, but not so much now.

Back to the task at hand.

The next section is Church/Activities/Hobbies.  This is where I keep a lot of contact information, membership information, and schedules.  The things in this section at my house should be:

Church

  • Altar Server Schedule:  Monkey #1 serves (scheduled) about once each month but fills in a lot.  Looking at the schedule, I can actually kind of tell when he’ll show up for Mass only to be thrown in a robe at the last minute.
  • Altar Server Contact List:  If he can’t serve on a scheduled day, it’s up to me to make a trade.
  • PSR Schedules:  PSR is our church’s Sunday School.  Monkey #2 meets on Sundays before Mass, but Monkey #1, since starting Middle School, attends on Wednesday – I guess this is staffing and space.
  • Youth Group Schedule:  Usually on Sunday nights, the Middle School Youth Group sometimes has Saturday activities, week night projects, etc.
  • Youth Group Contact Info:  I have yet to use this, but I’m sure it will be handy at some point.

Activities

  • Karate:  I try to keep a copy of the class schedule, phone number, address, etc.  I have to call the school pretty regularly because things slip my mind.
  • Bunco:  I play Bunco once a month.  At our anniversary bunco, we were given manuals for our particular group.  This includes member names and addresses, guidelines, sub list, etc.  I’m a teacher and a disorganized one, so my folder goes missing for weeks at a time.  I believe my binder is a safer place for it.
  • Pool:  It would be lovely to have Grizzly’s pool schedules and team info in my binder so I would know ahead of time where he’s playing, when he has an off week, etc.  This is something I’m still working on.
  • Running Club:  Monkey #2 loves the running club at school.  I’d love to have an accurate schedule.  She’s missed 2 weeks due to misinformation from a sponsor.

Hobbies

  • Hunting stuff:  Yeah, this one might be a binder in itself.  I’d like to have an inventory of what hunting stuff Grizzly and the monkeys have, maybe a price book for ammo, lease information so I know what/when/how much to plan for fees.

If I have the schedules in place, I can transfer easily to a calendar and keep up with things more handily.  We have a lot more activities during the summer, like library days, Kids Bowl Free, and play dates.  Grizzly usually gets suckered in to “one more season of softball.”  It’s easier to keep track when everything is in one place.

Other things that might be included in this section:

  • Weight Watchers meeting info
  • Camps
  • Tutoring info and schedules
  • Community Ed Classes
  • Vacation Bible School info
  • Craft classes – I know Michael’s and Home Depot offer classes and workshops, and a local fabric store offers sewing classes, which interests me!

So what else do you think could go in this section?

~ Katie

 



Spring Break has arrived!  Woo hoo!  Back to basics – and the binder.

 

The next section focuses on health and fitness.  In my management binder, this section is a hodge-podge of all health, diet, and fitness related junk.

English: Road rash first aid kit.

English: Road rash first aid kit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

One of the first things I keep in this section is a first aid checklist.  I feel like every home should have at least one first aid kit!  I know Jeepnmom, with her house full of Y-chromosomes, has many.  Right now, I have a drawer in the kitchen.  While it was a placement of opportunity, it’s worked out really well.  Most of Monkey #2’s “bo-bo’s” happen out in front  of the house and since we come in through the garage all the time, the kitchen drawer is a great place for the band aids and such.  The next step is to build kits for the vehicles and garage.

 

After this, I have a medicine cabinet checklist.  Just like the pantry, there are certain staples that have to be in my medicine cabinet.  For example, I have to have adult and kid strength pain meds.  Thankfully, we’ve pretty much moved past the syrup stage, using meltaways and sprinkles for many of our cough, cold, and achey baby remedies.

 

I keep a medical information sheet on each family member, including the four-legged beastie.  I include their basic statistics, allergies, doctor  and hospital info, etc.  Any I also have medical authorization forms, which is a good thing if a grandparent happens to have to deal with a monkey medical emergency. Every time we add an activity to our schedules, see a new doctor, or start a school year, I’m bombarded with medical information requests – who remembers what year the monkeys had their adenoids out?  It’s a good idea to keep a list, I’ve discovered.

 

A prescription drug record is helpful.  We don’t have a lot of maintenance medications in the House of Cheaptitude, but we do have some.  This way, we know who has what meds at what pharmacy.  I do include the prescription numbers, pharmacy name, and phone number to the pharmacy.  Dosing schedule (aka Medication Administration Record) could be kept here if necessary.  Another good thing to have here would be a list of what/when/how to dispose of unused, outdated meds.  Your pharmacist is a fabulous resource for this.

 

 

Every year, when our health insurance undergoes a change, the company sends out a book of stuff.  I guess they call it a directory.  I call it the “sorry, your poop isn’t covered” book.  I hole punch it and put it in this section for easy reference – to see what doctor I can’t visit this time.  I also photocopy our insurance cards so that we have all of the pertinent information if we need to call for any reason.

 

Pet Health Records:  Our fuzzy family members have health care, too.  I keep the monkey buddy’s shot schedule, vet info, and prescription info on a sheet in the Health & Fitness section.  I also keep contact info and hours for the emergency vet (yes, we’ve had that drama with previous pets) on hand.

 

For the fitness part of this equation, I have some different exercise schedules and magazine clippings of exercises I might try sometime.  I’d like to get a pedometer and track my walking, since that is the only real exercise I actually get around to.

 

Other things to include in this section might be:

 

  • diet trackers: Every once in a while, my sweet doctor tries to put the Grizzly on a diet.
  • gym membership:  This section is a great place to keep membership info, class schedules, gym hours, etc.
  • blood pressure record
  • sugar tracker for those with diabetes
  • emergency directory

 

What do you think?  Is this a helpful section or not so much?

 

~ Katie

 

 



et cetera
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